Answering the call: PACEM seeks to create a permanent women’s shelter

C-VILLE Weekly: Last August, Chinikqua Joseph’s Buckingham County home burned down. Thankfully, no one was injured or killed by the fire, but she, along with her mother and godmother, lost everything. They were homeless.

While looking for housing, Joseph stayed with friends, and later with a boyfriend. When that relationship became abusive, she had to find a new place to stay. Joseph has epilepsy, so it’s difficult for her to hold down a job, and she had trouble saving money for housing.

Just when she thought she would have no choice but to live on the street, Joseph learned about PACEM (People and Congregations Engaged in Ministry), which works with local congregations and community groups to provide overnight shelter, as well as food and resources, for the homeless during the colder months. 

Joseph is part of a startling rise in the number of local women seeking shelter at PACEM, says executive director Jayson Whitehead. In 2015, an average of 8 women per night sought shelter through PACEM, while in 2018 and 2019 the nightly average was 15. Last season, PACEM sheltered 73 women total. So far this year, the average has been 16 women per night. Read more…